Take a look at any article of clothing or item from the store and you’ll likely see a stamp of origin. Although it’s long been common to see ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in Taiwan’ printed on the tags of shirts, in recent years, small, American-made companies have become more of an obvious fixture across the clothing industry. Based on a recent CivicScience study of over 8,000 U.S. adults, 40% of respondents feel a ‘Made in America’ distinction is somewhat important. When combined with the 27% of U.S. adults who feel it is very important, that makes 67% who value apparel and footwear that is made in the U.S.A.
Those who prioritize U.S.A.-made items come from a slightly older demographic. As the data shows, Baby Boomers find this distinction the most important.
Although this subset of purchasers may have strong feelings about where their clothing and footwear is made, how the company behaves is less of a priority. Those who believe ‘Made in America’ makes a difference are the least likely to consider a company’s social consciousness before making a purchase.
Generally speaking, those who favor American-made clothes believe that brand and price are equally important. However, this demographic also skews more heavily towards low-income earners–a non-intuitive point, considering the higher price tag American-made goods tend to have, as compared to their overseas-made counterparts.
Despite a potentially lower income, there is a strong correlation between those who prefer American-made goods and those who prefer to pay in cash.
Considering the cash focus of this demographic, it is not surprising that those who purchase American-made goods also have the lowest rates of credit card debt.
The internet provides a myriad of options, but cash payment is not one of them. As a result, it is no surprise that those who feel the ‘Made in America’ distinction is important are also doing the most shopping in a store. Of those with an opinion on the subject, shopping in-store decreases as American-made importance decreases.
Additionally, as the preference for American-made clothing decreases, the influence of the internet as a top form of advertising increases. This could be linked to the fact younger generations (those less interested in American-made clothing) are more likely to be more influenced by the internet than their older counterparts.
Local Goods as a Lifestyle Choice
For some, the idea of purchasing American-made clothing can sound like a splurge, a special purchase that might not be a sustainable regular expense. However, the data shows that the opposite is true. Those who don’t splurge on themselves are most likely to buy American-made clothes. This suggests that for those invested in the local goods movement, these items are less of a superfluous expense and more of an element of the lifestyle.
In 2019, older U.S. adults are largely interested in American-made clothing. This demographic tends to have healthy purchasing habits and opts for an in-store buying experience. While many companies have built their image around being Made in the U.S.A., these companies should note that this distinction will matter less to future generations.